Clink! Clank! Clunk!
That's the sound of a can being kicked yet even farther down the road as Curry County Commissioners waffle over a decision regarding the county's financial crises - and ultimately the future of its remaining county departments.
On Wednesday, the commissioners directed the county attorney to draft an emergency declaration, to be voted on at a future date, effectively delaying a decision that needs to be made now.
The standing-room-only crowd of citizens and county department heads and staff at Wednesday's commissioner meeting was hoping to hear definitive answers, and once again, they went away frustrated.
If the commissioners decide not to declare a fiscal emergency and instead lay off employees, they need to start the process now - not hold more meeting to bandy about ideas. It's too late for that.
It is their duty to make the unpopular decisions. Any decision they make - declare a fiscal emergency (and allowing the state to enter the picture) or lay off some or all of the remaining 96 county employees - could cost each of them their jobs. Doing nothing is not an option.
That's the way it goes in a democracy, especially when you're trying to keep the proverbial "ship," as Commissioner David Itzen calls it, from hitting the iceberg and sinking.
There is no time left to change course. The commissioners are still sipping their cocktails on the top deck of this boat, while those in steerage are listening to the sounds of metal against ice, and fear the worst.
A proposed "summit" meeting in January will bring in elected officials from all the OandC counties to discuss their common woes. It's too little, too late. That meeting should have been held two years ago. Our sheriff said he doesn't expect to hear anything he hasn't already heard.
Right now, the rest of the state is watching what happens in Curry County. Representatives from other counties hope to learn from our mistakes. They certainly aren't going to learn much from our success stories andndash; there are none.
Time isn't running out; it's gone.
And the collision isn't going to be pretty.